Mid-October 2020, during the last phase of a difficult political time in general, Susanna Baker, Executive Director of Studio Montclair, reached out and asked me if I would be interested in proposing a show honoring Women’s History Month. 

I started with two words: women with a ‘y’ and werq. I looked them up online.

From the Urban Dictionary:

This is a term used by those who feel that having the word "man" in the word "woman" makes women a subset of men. So, to make themselves a non subset, they changed the letter 'e' to a 'y'.
I am not a subset, I am a womyn.

An expression used when praising someone for looking fierce.

I was inspired as I headed to my bookshelf and reread selections from Sexual Politics by Kate Millett to get my wheels turning. Millett was part of my chosen family when I was in my late 20s. 

In 1999, I spent about a year’s worth of winter weekends and summer months upstate, werqing her women’s art colony, archiving her writing materials, mowing acres of evergreen tree farmland, and daydreaming of future times to come. I am now 51 and she is no longer with us in the physical sense, but her writing remains. Sometimes, picking up her books remind me of conversations past regarding feminisms and life as a Dyke living out loud in the modern world. 

“Under patriarchy the female did not herself develop the symbols by which she is described.” -Kate Millett, Sexual Politics

Womyn’s Werq” asked artists to reflect on how radicalism manifests on a visceral and intellectual level – is it the artist’s engagement with protest, activism, cultural organizing? Is it the materials used or the content the artist takes up? 

“Womyn’s Werq” honors radical feminists, artists who identify with LGBTQIA culture and the spirit of breaking conventional boundaries in our daily lives. With a strong focus on inclusion, this show serves as a snapshot of contemporary work created by gender-fluid, eco-femme, queer/trans, and old-school butch/femmes. 

The exhibition features a wide range of 2-D artworks and sculptures, short video art pieces serving as visual narratives in the main gallery, and, in the exterior windows, featuring exciting contemporary art installations! 

Womyn’s Werq” is an old school, LGBTQIA-friendly, radical feminist art exhibition featuring a collection of more than 60 artworks describing the spirit of renewal, raw energies, sexuality, the personal is political, art making as a form of protest, soft spots, and maybe even finding love in the age of COVID.

Click here to register for a ZOOM reception and curator talk on Friday, March 19 at 7 PM.

Participating artists: Aodan, Ara-Lucia, Mia Ahntholz, Olga Alexander, Sandra Anton, Barbara Bickart, Jeanne Brasile, Rodriguez Calero, Marina Carreira, Gwen Charles, Liz  Collins, Leslie Connito, Lisa D’Amico, Lisa DeLoria Weinblatt, Yvonne Duck, Kara Dunne, Megan Dyer, Kathleen Elyse, Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern, Modern Fossils:Judith Marchand and David P Horowitz, Yolanda Fundora, Colleen Sweeney Gahrmann, Trish Gianakis, Parastoo Haddadi, Karen Heagle, Susan Hensel, Katie Hovencamp, Jennifer Hughes, Valerie Huhn, Raluca Iancu, Kristen Iannuzzelli, Elizabeth Insogna, Miriam Jacobs, Dorian Katz, Michelle Knox, Erin Kuhn, Phoebe Legere, Jennifer Malone, Paula Marino, Anne Q McKeown, Nick Metz, Leslie Nobler, Jacquie O’Brien, Christy O’Connor, Kate Okeson, Stacey AS Pritchard, Brass Rabbit, Marisol Ross, Yolanda Santa Cruz, Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar, Alix Anne Shaw, Gail G. Slockett, Victoria Smits, Peter Tilgner, Kay Turner, Rhonda Urdang, Sarah Van Vliet, Margaret Rose Vendryes, Sue Eldridge Ward, Jennifer Willoughby, and Becky Yazdan.
About Studio Montclair: Studio Montclair is an inclusive, nationwide non-profit organization of exhibiting, professional, and emerging artists and others interested in the visual arts. The mission of the organization is to promote culture, education, equality, and tolerance through art. Studio Montclair is committed to diversity at every level. Founded in 1997, the organization includes over 500 members. Gallery appointments can be made via this link.

Artwork in cover image: Erin Kuhn's "Peach Love," Jennifer Willoughby's "Dystopia," and Phoebe Legere's "Holy Clitoral Scroll"